An address by Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community delivered in Baitul Futuh, Morden, on 24 March 2007.
All the distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. Assalamu alaikum, Peace and blessings of Allah be upon you
Before I start my formal address, I feel it appropriate and necessary to thank Lord Eric Avebury. You might think that how can a person who is not from the community introduce the Head of the Community, but I think and I consider him from amongst us since he has been very kind to us for a long time. We cherish the concern that he always extends towards the community. I wish we would have some more people of such friendly caring nature.
Now I come to my formal address.
The pace at which peace is fast disappearing from the world today has caused each sane and sensible person to worry. This includes religious people and those who do not believe in any religion. It includes believers in God, whether one God or many gods, and atheists who deny the very existence of God. Each group has its own arguments. However, I do not wish to get into a debate at the moment as to who is right and who is false.
They all have valid concerns that peace is disappearing from this world. Man who considers himself to be educated and civilised, is reverting back to the period of ignorance when personal ego and false pride led people to cut each other’s throat and on a collective basis made tribes and dynasties indulge in such barbaric acts.
It is a matter of great sadness, therefore, that educated man has become so soft-hearted that he turned out to be kind to animals of the wild so much so that there are societies and organisations established to provide protection to some species. These organisations compel governments to protect the wild species and legislate against their destruction. Even the parliaments pass laws prescribing punishments if these animals are killed. Yet, on the other hand, man who is the most superior of all creations, is made to starve and restrictions are placed against him. Economic and trade sanctions are imposed against those countries that do not follow or tow the line.
It is beyond one’s understanding that when governments confront other governments, in order to gain their political and economic objectives, it is the poor and peace-loving people of these countries that suffer in the ensuing tug of war. They are ground in the millstone of hunger, poverty and cruelty. What is the fault of the innocent children who do not even understand this struggle for political and economic superiority? Even if they do understand all this, they have no connection with causing any harm to others for this purpose.
Then, we observe that this matter does not stop there. The anger and prejudice reach such ugly heights that bullets and bombs are showered without discrimination. Innocent citizens, women and children risk their lives in such areas and countries. Some of them are being killed by the foreign forces and some become targets of the internal fellow countrymen who are the enemies of humanity, who, in their vanity, think that they are demoralising the external enemy. In this way, whereas only one enemy is killed, twenty innocent lives of their own are lost in this process. I do not consider such so-called nationalists as lovers of humanity.
Today, some people maintain, and they preach as well, that these destructions are caused because religions have created these divisions and believers in God are committing these crimes in the name of God. This is an absurd calumny against religion and God. Just think, how many wars have been fought in the name of religion? Although many historians count wars fought in the name of religion in their list of all kinds of wars, there are very few wars fought in the name of religion. Yet, if we look at the history of any religion, we see that no Prophet ever preached the killing of others in the name of God. If subsequently the teachings are twisted and given wrong interpretation, it is not the fault of the prophet nor is it the fault of his teachings. Neither can we blame God that he sent a prophet to create discord nor can we, God forbid, ever visualise that the prophets gathered the people in the name of God to try and create disorder in the world instead of peace. If we continue with such unfounded allegations, we may even reach a stage where the very purpose of creation of human beings could be attributed to cause disorder in the world.
As I said before that God has made man the most superior of all creations. He has been given the faculty to think and to rationalise. He is endowed with the ability to increase his knowledge, to excel in high moral values, but above all, to surpass in spirituality, to recognise his Creator and to learn to bow before Him and seek His help in difficult circumstances. This, indeed, has been the teaching of all prophets. Now if someone does not act on these teachings, we can neither blame the prophets nor God.
Nevertheless, if we go into the details of all the wars, whether right or wrong and whether or not they were fought in the name of religion, it will become a very long discussion that time does not permit.
At the moment, I will present to you the teachings that are given in the Holy Qur’an to establish peace on earth. The vision of God that is given in the Holy Qur’an with reference to peace is:
He is Allah, and there is no God beside Him, the Sovereign, the Holy One, the Source of Peace, the Bestower of Security, the Protector, the Mighty, the Subduer, the Exalted. Holy is Allah, far above that which they associate with Him. (Ch.59:V.24)
It is quite obvious from this verse that the One Who is the Source of Peace, and the Bestower of Security, how can He tolerate that His creation should destroy peace and security on earth? If we hold these sentiments then a person who breaks the law and destroys the peace in our life, is punished for his deed. On the other hand, those who uphold the law are our true neighbours and are messengers of peace. Their friendship fosters sentiments of love and affection in us. If someone looks at them with a critical eye, we stand up in support of them.
Similarly, according to the attributes of God that have been mentioned in the Holy Qur’an, He dislikes those who violate peace. According to our belief, He metes out punishment to them, if not in this world then certainly in the next. And, he who spreads peace, security and love here, God will bless him in this world as well in the next.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community upholds this fundamental point of love and peace and preaches it to others.
Peace can be established in this world if only everyone recognises God and understands this point that it is by loving the Creator alone that we can love His creation. This will eliminate the selfishness in us and we will rise above ourselves and thus be beneficial to others. This will increase our vision that we have to not only establish peace in our own surroundings, but also create peace and security in the whole world. Only then can long lasting peace be established in the world.
If for the sake of our personal gain or loss, or for the sake of our own rights, or for the rights of our dear ones, we do not hesitate to fight for our rights only and in that process usurp or snatch away the rights of other people, then we can never establish peace. In short, to establish true peace, we must understand the spirit of true justice. How can we establish true justice and what is its spirit? In this connection, God Almighty, Who calls Himself King of all Kings in the Holy Qur’an, tells us that this peace will only come about with justice and benevolence. And how can this justice be established? The Holy Qur’an says:
O ye who believe! Be steadfast in the cause of Allah, bearing witness in equity; and let not a people’s enmity incite you to act otherwise than with justice. Be always just, that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah, Surely Allah is Aware of what you do. (Ch.5: V.9)
The Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community states in this respect (while explaining this verse):
‘Allah the Almighty says about justice that it cannot be achieved without truthfulness, that your enmity towards enemy nations should not hinder you from dispensing justice. Remain just, because righteousness lies in it. Now, you know that those nations that unjustly harm and hurt and cause bloodshed, chase and murder women and children, like the unbelievers of Makkah, and do not desist from waging wars, how difficult it is to deal justly with such people. But the Holy Qur’an has not taken away the rights of even such mortal enemies and has enjoined justice and truthfulness. I say to you in truth that it is easy to deal with an enemy with hostility; but it is very difficult to safeguard the rights of opponents and to deal justly with your enemy….. Often people show sympathy to their business rivals and talk to them sweetly but suppress their rights.’
Therefore, the foundation of justice will be laid in this world only when the lowest individual of the society, realises that he has to win the pleasure of his Creator and has to follow His commandments; and such individuals collectively try to create peace on a broad basis.
When such individuals elect their representatives for the government, their thinking will accordingly be that they do not have to exact a retribution for cruelties perpetrated against them because the thought of revenge deviates from true justice. However, cruelty can be punished; but the Almighty Allah says that the punishment that you want to give to a nation that has exceeded all limits can be in the form of a war. But such a war should only last until that nation ceases its act of excessive cruelty. And when they have stopped, then do not attempt to find excuses to punish the whole nation and do not continue to take revenge for past excesses.
Although this commandment of God Almighty is addressed to Muslims, it holds a status of a charter for general peace in the whole world. The Holy Qur’an says:
And if two parties of believers fight against each other, make peace between them, then if after that one of them transgresses against the other, fight the party that transgresses until it returns to the command of Allah. Then if it returns, make peace between them with equity, and act justly. Verily, Allah loves the just. (Ch. 49:V.10)
This great teaching can guarantee world peace today but we will have to rise above personal and political interest. Only then can we act in this manner. When such thinking is established, then any country, even if it be a neighbouring country, starts a campaign of any sort against another neighbouring or far off country, all countries should get together and warn it that if you create a hostile situation or create a disturbance in the peace of another territory, we will all declare war against you.
If today, the United Nations adopts this principle for all countries, great or small, then the conspiracies to capture the resources of other countries or to subdue other countries, can be nipped in the bud.
If there are real issues between two countries that may escalate into war, then the rest of the countries can get together and solve those issues using the highest standard of absolute justice and without any prejudice to either party. If these standards are used, the disputing countries will have to listen to such arbitration. If any one of those countries refuses to accept and creates a war-like situation, then all other countries can jointly declare war against that country. No one country can fight against the joint organisation of all the countries of the world. It will have to surrender. When the warring country agrees to peace, then the underlying problem should be resolved with total justice and equity in such a way that the country has no reason to hold any grievance against the others.
We will only have true peace in the world when the nations and countries try to establish peace in this way.
It is regrettable that the League of Nations did not follow these principles and failed as a consequence. Today, the United Nations Organisation also seems to be failing in dispensing the requirements of justice. There are different standards of justice for different countries and different Continents. Except for some very few decisions, most of the resolutions passed, in the past and even being adopted today, by the United Nations have been based on expediency and partisanship. Till such time that all countries are treated equally and at par, and the grudges and deep-seated sense of injustice are removed, no matter how many organisations are formed, they cannot bring peace to the world. It is also regrettable that Muslims, who have been given this teaching, are not acting on it themselves. They harbour enmities against each other and this is the case all over the world.
Peace will remain a dream as long as each nation considers its political and national interests above all others.
As I have said before, this will only come about when the world begins to look towards its Creator. Even now, there is time to change this dream of world peace into reality. Otherwise, the path that the world is following today is a perilous path.
Despite knowing the consequence, we are trying to turn a blind eye towards them. The problems do not get solved by turning blind eyes. Yes, we do get a false satisfaction by not realising the seriousness of the situation. However, as I have said before, the situation today is so visible to even a blind person and everyone is forced to admit that the peace of the world is being shattered and we must do something.
Although many of the world’s large countries are trying to do something, yet their efforts ignore the dimension of their Creator and their personal and political interests become paramount. When this happens, it often becomes difficult to fulfil the requirements of true justice and equity. In this respect Islam teaches:
Verily, Allah enjoins justice and the doing of good to others; and giving like kindred; and forbids indecency and manifest evil and transgression. He admonishes you that you may take heed. (Ch.16: V.91)
So, this is the way to establish peace. Do justice! And if you want to establish real peace, then not only do justice, but also the strong should treat the weaker with equity and treat them as one treats one’s dear and beloved and ignores some things of theirs. Every problem cannot be solved with force but good and just treatment develops an attachment.
We can see such an example in Islamic history when Syria was conquered in the time of Hazrat Umar(ra), the Second Successor of the Holy Prophet(sa). A tax was levied on the Syrian Christians for their well-being. Even in this, Hazrat Umar(ra) had forbidden to levy any tax on the poor. However, when, after a while, there was a danger of war from the Roman Empire, Hazrat Abu Ubaida(ra), the Governor of Syria, returned all the tax to the Christians telling them that because he might not be able to provide them protection, he had no excuse to keep any tax. At this, the Christians were so impressed that they said, without hesitation, that they pray that Muslims may become victorious over the Romans and then become rulers of this country once again because the Muslims not only do justice but also do good to the Christians.
The urge for real peace comes from the heart and the voice that comes from the heart is only one that establishes real peace because it is based on love and warmth. There are many such instances that occurred during the time of the Holy Prophet(sa) and during the time of his Successors; and the real reason was that those people were standard bearers of justice and equity because they had real fear of God in their hearts.
Therefore, the impression that world peace was destroyed due to the concept of God and religion, is absolutely wrong. Indeed, if today, the world inclines toward God then the nations will try to establish peace in the world by rising above their personal and political interests.
Peace that is brought about by human efforts cannot be long-lasting. Similarly, the disorder and unrest that exists in some countries, can be sorted out by negotiations in due course if there is no outside interference.
On the other hand, if the poor countries want the help of the rich countries, they should improve their organisational infrastructure, make education easily available and help to eliminate poverty. Every country that is being aided should be given a target to work according to a prescribed plan for a number of years and should be warned that if it does not meet those targets and achieve the goals set for it, its aid would be stopped. This will in itself create a sense of responsibility among the masses of those countries and this will be an act of goodness that will help to foster peace in those countries.
But we observe in today’s world that there are insincere sweet words and hollow agreements to establish peace. A great deal of noise is made for development aid as well. All this is being done, not to help the poor people, but to gain political advantage; and it does not produce satisfactory results.
Above all, nowadays, there is a race for new inventions for mass destruction that has made the rich and developed countries so immersed in developing new weapons, missiles, nuclear bombs and research for the destruction of mankind that it seems as if their preference is not to save humanity and create peace but to destroy the world.
Then, again, poverty and starvation is increasing in the developing countries; but whether they are victims of their own pride and ego or they suffer from insecurity, they are trying to join in this race. It appears that despite the worry that peace is disappearing from this world and the search for how it can be established, in practice more attention is being paid to develop weapon of mass destruction.
Therefore, those countries who want to be the standard-bearers of peace should sit down together and work out how the world can be saved from destruction. When thinking of that, they should remember their Creator and then think for the betterment of His creation. But remember that the path the world has chosen today, the effect of instability will not be confined to just one country but will spread all over the world. It is quite possible that we will witness many examples like Hiroshima and Nagasaki or even worse.
Therefore, my request to you is to search inside yourself and look at the Benevolent Creator. We must not leave our next generation handicapped and disabled because of our mistakes. Today, we must establish peace to save our future generation from a life of disability. We must not let our future generation sink into that pit of darkness from which our ancestors brought us out to where we are today. It will be a height of selfishness if for the sake of our false pride or for a temporary gain, we forget the future of our future generations.
It is my fervent prayer that Allah the Almighty makes the world understand this reality! Amin.
I thank you again for gracing this function and coming here. Thank you.